EdTech February 7, 2024

EdTech Software 101: How to Buy EdTech Software for Students

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Edtech software 101 How to Buy EdTech Software for Students

Did you know that 76% of administrators and educators constantly strive to use innovative technology in education?

In fact, the use of EdTech in schools has increased by 99% in the last few years. EdTech is a catalyst that can significantly make things easier for students and teachers so they can focus on the bigger picture instead of futile administrative tasks. But when a field is growing exponentially, you naturally have many options, making it harder to find the right EdTech tools.

Interestingly, higher education decision makers most often turn to each other when making decisions about educational technology and EdTech software purchases. This means they start by buying educational technology and then find problems to solve. Even then, only 78% of institutions conduct post-purchase research to assess the effectiveness of their new software – which is alarming, to say the least. These statistics imply that education decision makers need to better understand how to buy EdTech software for students. Besides this, they also need to work on proper implementation plans to ensure the technology is actually used by students and teachers. This means involving key stakeholders (students and teachers) in selecting, procuring, and rolling out educational technology.

This blog focuses on how education decision makers can decide to purchase educational technology and the factors they need to consider. So, read till the end to understand software purchasing at institutions.

How to Buy EdTech Software for Students

How to Buy EdTech Software for Students

Educational technology is a big investment for schools, so conducting thorough research before purchasing EdTech software is essential. They should be clear on what value the software can provide and how to implement it to ensure teachers and students use it long-term.

We’ve even made a list of the factors you should consider as an EdTech decision maker to help you get started:

Does it Solve a Real Problem?

The most important question to ask involves educational relevance. Does the software solve a real problem at your institution, or is it just nice to have? Will it even make an actual difference if you purchase it? Does the technology align with your institutional goals and existing technology? This means the new technology should integrate smoothly with the technologies you’re already using, plus your overall curriculum. Otherwise, it won’t be viable long-term, and you shouldn’t settle for temporary solutions. We also recommend starting with a problem and then looking into software that addresses it head-on.

Is There Supporting Evidence?

Just because a company claims its EdTech software is the best on the market doesn’t mean you should believe it. Instead, you should believe hard facts like data, educational research, and other evidence. For example, if another institution already uses a particular educational technology, what difference did it make for them? If there is a difference, you should also be clear on whether it was an actual or perceived difference – you can tell by whether it’s supported by data. Also, the institution itself may be lagging in research and post-purchase feedback. In this case, you should identify loopholes in their implementation plan, learn from their mistakes, and devise an appropriate launch plan starting with a formal pilot. A pilot is when you test the software on a small group of students or teachers before scaling up for the rest of the institution. This step is also crucial because it can help you identify training gaps and potential problems with technology integration.

Does it Incorporate Personalized Learning?

Personalized learning means adjusting study materials to help students understand better by catering to their unique academic needs. This is one of the biggest breakthroughs of technology in education because we can provide individualized instructions and support to each student. Traditional classrooms are limited in this sense, but EdTech can accomplish this quite easily. Online learning platforms for students, like SimpliTaught, use artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify the way that students best learn as individuals and provide personalized learning experiences accordingly. The platform records student behavior and recommends study materials accordingly, i.e., it adapts to each student’s individual learning behaviors. Adaptive learning is important for higher education because it ensures targeted support for all students.

 The point is that personalized learning is a big part of technology in education, so you should check whether the EdTech software you’re purchasing incorporates this. If it doesn’t, then you should re-evaluate the effectiveness of that educational technology because personalized learning is the need of the hour.

Will Students Be Able to Use It?

When you’re adopting new technology, training gaps will be normal. Still, you must identify these training needs and train your students and teachers accordingly. Remember, it will only benefit them if they know how to use it, and they will only use it if they find it useful. So, EdTech software training should be a critical step in your technology implementation plan, and a user-friendly interface is a big part of that. Software with limited device compatibility, difficult navigation, or a poorly designed interface might not be worth it, even if it solves a real problem. This is because these things shape the overall user experience, and educational technology is practically useless if students can’t use it. Of course, all students don’t have the same technical proficiencies, but take a moment to consider if the training gaps can be practically filled and proceed with the purchase only if the answer is yes.

Involve Your IT Team

Education decision makers have the final say when purchasing EdTech software. However, it’s still important to consult the experts, aka your IT team. They can (probably) instantly identify major red flags to help you assess the software. Besides this, they can also help you determine how much IT support you will require to integrate the new educational technology into your existing IT infrastructure.

Consider Piloting

Regardless of perceived outcomes, getting feedback from students and teachers after you’ve purchased EdTech software is important. This will give you an accurate idea of the tool’s effectiveness. Maybe you’ll also be able to identify areas of improvement to increase its effectiveness. Piloting allows you to do this because you can test the software on a small group before buying on an institutional level. If it’s a subscription-based service, you can get a one-month subscription and review only if you notice a real difference in outcomes. Whether the pilot is successful or not, it will help you make better decisions in the future.

Research the Company

Company reputation is also super important. Don’t buy EdTech software from just anyone – do your due research to avoid companies making fake promises. It’s also a good idea to check reviews, testimonials, and partnerships. Additionally, take the time to review their privacy and data security policies to avoid a potential data breach.

Do a Cost-Benefit Analysis

Good schools typically do have an allocated budget for education, so it’s important to do a proper cost-benefit analysis. Get a quote for the service to decide which pricing plan would suit your institution. Don’t just go with the cheapest option because you might lose out on good-value-for-money benefits. Carefully analyze the total cost and ascertain whether the investment is worth it in terms of the problem being addressed.

Don’t Rush – Make a Proper Implementation Plan

Education decision makers are typically found at the leadership level when it comes to organizational structure. They’re busy people, and they don’t have a lot of time to ponder over things. This means once they’ve purchased educational technology, dealing with subsequent implementation will be someone else’s problem. At this point, institutions need to identify who the “owner” is – the owner being the person who will own and lead the implementation from the point of purchase. Often, institutions rely too much on technical experts or administrators, but ideally, both parties should weigh in with their expertise as needed for successful implementation.

How to Ensure Students and Teachers Use EdTech Software

How to Ensure Students and Teachers Use EdTech Software

Once EdTech software is purchased, students and teachers might use it in the short term, but it can quickly be forgotten. There might be a gap in institutional and student expectations because key stakeholders (students and teachers) were not involved in early purchasing decisions like piloting. Besides this, training gaps can be a major reason for neglecting useful educational technology. Regardless, the “owner” must take the lead in identifying the reason and dealing with it accordingly.

Now, you must ensure teachers and students understand the implementation process and are involved as much as possible so everyone is on the same page. Also, appoint an “owner” to ensure implementation according to the pre-defined plan.

SimpliTaught’s AI Takes Personalized Learning to Another Level

At SimpliTaught, we use AI to deliver advanced personalized learning experiences to college students. But wait – that’s not it. We take it up a notch by incorporating an ML model that understands student learning behaviors and recommends study materials that match the way students learn best.

If you want to upgrade your institution’s educational technology with the latest EdTech software, contact us at info@SimpliTaught.com.

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